A monitor for consumer confidence in the safety of food

J. de Jonge

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Despite the fact that in the developed countries food safety standards are higher than ever, food safety incidents continue to occur frequently. The accumulation of food safety incidents might affect general consumer confidence in the safety of food. Therefore, in this thesis, the concept of general consumer confidence in the safety of food is further conceptualised, and embedded within an integrative framework that incorporates both its antecedents and consequences. General consumer confidence in the safety of food is determined by 1) consumer trust in societal actors, 2) consumer recall of food safety incidents and media coverage, 3) the perceived safety of different product groups, and 4) socio-demographic and personality characteristics. The behavioural consequences of general consumer confidence relate to information search and particular food choice behaviours.
A measure for general consumer confidence in the safety of food is developed, showing that the construct consists of two distinct, although correlated, dimensions: optimism and pessimism. In the thesis, the construct of general consumer confidence in the safety of food is validated within its nomological network. The results show that optimism and pessimism are activated by different sources, and that consumer trust in societal actors, and consumer perceptions of the safety of meat are the strongest determinants of general consumer confidence in the safety of food. The framework is shown to be stable over time, and found to be applicable to an international context. In terms of the relationship between general consumer confidence in the safety of food and its behavioural consequences, it is shown that consumers low in general confidence in the safety of food are more likely to revert to specific risk relief strategies. A more in depth analysis of the role of trust in societal actors in shaping general consumer confidence in the safety of food, shows that the strength of the relationship between trust and general consumer confidence in the safety of food depends on the specific food chain actor, the specific dimension of trust, as well as the specific combinations between actors and different dimensions of trust.
Overall, this thesis has extended existing research that largely focused on consumer perceptions of specific food-related hazards, by developing and validating an integrative framework of general consumer confidence in the safety of food. This research informs stakeholders that share responsibility on food safety about how confidence develops in the complex environment of the food production system, and provides risk managers and communicators, as well as other stakeholders, with important insights and tools to better respond to consumer concerns about food safety issues.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • van Trijp, Hans, Promotor
  • Frewer, Lynn, Promotor
  • Renes, Reint-Jan, Co-promotor
Award date17 Nov 2008
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789085049951
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • food safety
  • consumer attitudes
  • consumers
  • monitoring
  • consumer behaviour
  • perception
  • foods

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